Cook's Corner by Lisa Tindell

Published 5:52 pm Wednesday, May 28, 2008

By Staff
Memorial Day has long been regarded as the official beginning of summer. Since that has come and gone, I suppose it's perfectly acceptable now to get the summer activities into full swing.
For many people, my family included, summer means firing up the grill as much as possible. We've already put a glorious char on some burgers and chops on my back patio and certainly are going to keep up the work.
A couple of years ago, my family discovered a great addition to a grilled meal: grilled vegetables. I have seen many recipes for sauces and marinades meant to give additional flavor to the vegetables. After trying some of them, I have decided a little salt, pepper and olive oil is really all you need to put on many vegetables to make them delicious.
Our favorites are squash, zucchini, onions and peppers. I sometimes put the vegetables on skewers for grilling. That usually makes my husband, the master griller, happy but he is perfectly willing to put the sliced onions directly on the grill.
There are so many flavor-enfused oils and vinegars on the market, it's easy to try a little variety. With so many varieties of spices and seasons in grinders on the supermarket shelves, you have an unlimited choice of new things to try. You'll be suprised what a little seasoning can do do a plain vegetable.
I love mushrooms and onions and I've even grown a fondness of bleu cheese. Mixing those ingredients with a hot grill sounds delicious. These would make a great appetizer for any meal.
Stuffed Mushrooms
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems removed
8 ounces bleu cheese
3 medium red onions, sliced into rings
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil grate. Fill mushroom caps with crumbled bleu cheese. Place onion slices and mushrooms (cheese side up) onto the prepared grill. Turn onions over frequently until tender. Do not turn over mushrooms. Grill until bleu cheese has melted, and mushrooms are tender. Remove mushrooms to a serving plate, and top with grilled onions.
For a main dish recipe, I've decided to share one for grilled chicken. I think I may have shared this recipe before, but I'm passing it along again. The lime flavor added to the chicken makes a tangy treat for a hot afternoon meal.
Margarita Chicken
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 cups bottled margarita mix (non-alcoholic version)
Pour the margarita mix into a large resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken breasts, and press out as much of the air as possible before sealing. Marinate 4 to 8 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grill grate. Remove chicken from marinade, and discard the marinade. Grill chicken eight minutes per side, or until juices run clear.
Now, on to a salad recipe and believe it or not, you can grill your salad. I found this idea recently and thought it would be perfect for this column.
Grilled Salad
4 romaine hearts
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat grill for high heat. Brush romaine hearts with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place romaine hearts on the preheated grill. Cook five to 10 minutes, turning frequently, until slightly charred but not heated all the way through. Serve warm with sun-dried tomatoes and your favorite dressing.
If grilling lettuce doesn't sound appetizing to you, this next salad recipe should satisfy your cravings for something different.
Grilled Bread Salad
2 red onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
8 plum (Roma) tomatoes, cored
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cups cubed Italian bread
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat. Brush the onion slices and tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and set aside. Drizzle another 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the cubed bread in a large bowl. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper; toss well. Skewer the bread cubes with metal skewers. Grill bread on preheated grill until golden brown on all sides, about three minutes. Grill onions and tomatoes until soft, about five minutes. Chop the roasted onions and tomatoes into large pieces, and place into a large bowl along with the toasted bread, cucumber, and basil. Whisk the vinegar together with the remaining two tablespoons of oil to make a dressing. Pour over the salad, and toss to coat.
If grilling your salad wasn't enough, how about a little grilled dessert?
Peaches and Cream
4 peaches, halved and pitted
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup soft cream cheese with honey and nuts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat a grill for medium-high heat. Brush peaches with a light coating of oil. Place pit side down onto the grill. Grill for five minutes, or until the surfaces have nice grill marks. Turn the peaches over, and drizzle with a bit of honey. Place a dollop of the cream cheese spread in the place where the pit was. Grill for two to three more minutes, or until the filling is warm. Serve immediately.
Here's another recipe that can help you create a wonderful dessert straight from the grill. If you like cantaloupe, you'll love this one.
Grilled Cantaloupe
1 cantaloupe – peeled, seeded, and cubed
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Preheat grill for medium heat. Thread the cantaloupe chunks onto 4 skewers. In a small saucepan, heat butter with honey until melted. Stir in mint. Brush cantaloupe with honey mixture. Lightly oil grate. Grill skewers 4 to 6 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Serve with remaining sauce.
I'll have to admit, I have an ulterior motive for providing such a wide vareity of recipes this week.
If you'll notice, I've include recipes that can be created on the grill that can be a complete meal. I've given you a salad, meat, vegetable and even a couple of dessert ideas.
By cooking the entire meal on the grill, you can put all of the meal prep on the man of the house. All you'll have to do is make a little sweet tea or lemonade.
I hope that these recipes will give you an opportunity to venture out a little and get away from burgers and hot dogs every time you fire up the grill.
If you have any great summer recipes you'd like to share, please let me know. I'll be happy to give you credit for your submissions. You can give me a call at 867-4876, drop by the office at 407 St. Nicholas Ave., or drop me a line by email at
Until next week, happy cooking.

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